Chapter 9 - Peace in the Midst of Adversity

Peace in the Midst of Adversity



Let us consider two “nevers.”

Both of these nevers are stark departures from perceived reality. They stand on the very outer limits of faith. They are the guardians of internal peace in the midst of adversity.

Although they were written a thousand years apart and for different reasons, both of them strike the same point: righteousness is a shield to the pain of adversity.

We find the first “never” in Psalm 15 (niv) when it teaches that he who yields to God’s call to righteousness will never be shaken:

Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?
He whose walk is blameless,
Who does what is righteous,
Who speaks the truth from his heart;
And has no slander on his tongue,
Who does his neighbor no wrong
And casts no slur on his fellow man,
Who despises a vile man
But honors those who fear the Lord,
Who keeps his oath
Even when it hurts,
Who lends his money without usury
And does not accept a bribe against
The innocent.
He who does these things
Will never be shaken.

We find the second “never” in Second Peter Chapter 1 where we find perhaps the most astounding scripture in all of the bible:

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things [righteousness], you will never stumble1

Note that each of these scriptures speaks directly to actual, experiential divine participation in our lives. Help in the midst of trials comes from the supernatural peace of God:

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.2

The supernatural peace of God depends on the supernatural presence of God. And the supernatural presence of God depends on our heart: Do we love Him and do we express that love through surrender to His Word? If we do, we find another scripture that speaks directly to God's interaction with us: He makes Himself known to us.

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.3

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.4

These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.5

The presence of God within is what eternal life is:

And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom thou hast sent.6

Knowing God is experienced in this life now. This is the real power behind Christianity. Knowing God is eternal life and we experience eternal life through Christ:

In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.7

Eternal life is Christ.8 Without Christ, there is no eternal life. With the gift of eternal life and the promises that accompany it, we became partakers of the divine nature9 and we experience His life now in this life when He is with us.10

The most tangible characteristic of eternal life in this life is an inner peace that the Christian who is fully committed to obedience to scripture receives directly from God:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.11

On the other hand, the most tangible characteristic of disobedience is emptiness, confusion and lack of internal peace.

But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters case up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.12

God does not tell us to do anything that He does not empower us to do. Take courage. You are forging ahead into trials that God, in his own wisdom, has prepared specifically for you. Being troubled is a choice (but not a sin). Freedom from fear is a choice, even when we dying. Certainly, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, but it is our direction, our goal.

So what is the alternative when we open our eyes in the morning and face the lion of adversity? The alternative is faith in the very jaws of loss and pain. And the greater the trial, the more difficult that faith becomes. And the more difficult the faith becomes, the greater the significance of our choice becomes and the stronger we become.

The fear, the lack of faith, the reaction to the pain, and the emotional upheaval is the trial, not the sin. The sin is what we may do as a result of the trial, but forgiveness awaits us when we sin. If one curses God because of the trial, it is a sin, to be sure, but He knows that He is testing you and He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins13 which have been paid for at the cross.14

When we refuse, as a matter of our own choice, to yield to the destroyer and to sin, God forges us into eternal value. It is in this way that we win. We win when we are crushed in the vice of adversity and we win when we are not. God cannot be out-done. In the end, He awaits us in a place where there is neither death16 nor tears:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.17

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.18

Therefore, obedience as an expression of faith (I will do what you say if for no other reason other than You have said it) is the key to experiencing eternal life and experiencing internal spiritual peace on earth and in the midst of tragedy.

The pain of loss and the continuing reality of that pain must be borne and we must endure, but with Christ’s help.19 It is as necessary for us to endure the outrageous fate that is part of our life just as it was necessary for Christ to endure His fate20 except His fate was far more painful than ours. He became sin for us.21 and paid the penalty for exactly that.

Righteous choices made in the face of adversity are like golden bricks built upon a solid foundation of Christ:

But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.22

The bricks become a part of us because we are a new creature in Christ.23 They are eternal as we are eternal.24 Every brick is eternal because it is an act of righteousness.25 Their value lies in the very fact that they are forged in the fires of adversity. They cost something. Cheap love is worthless.

So, the adversities that we encounter in this journey are far from meaningless: they define us. We are they.

Life is a game of duplicate bridge but there is no winner and there is no loser. Everyone wins the prize they choose; but everyone must pay price. It may be an expensive prize or it may be wood hay and stubble. The currency is not money, but righteousness.

The couple who loses a child and still exercises faith in God has created faith where faith would otherwise have died. The man or woman who experiences the untimely death of a spouse or a sibling can be pressed to the point of ultimate testing and emerge with a faith that is stronger than ever and the internal presence of God as well. The spouse who honors a marital vow and lives out a grim marriage faithfully has honored God and has created virtue that would not otherwise exist. The man who to his own loss honors his word has created integrity. The woman who bears extreme physical pain and at the same time quietly submits to the will of God will bear the fruits of the Spirit and has inserted a backbone of iron into her faith. The Christian who faces an untimely death with courage and faith will find exactly that: courage and faith where they did not exist before. And he takes them both into eternity with him. The disabled child who overcomes, perhaps a Helen Keller or a Joni Erickson Tada, creates cascades of faith, wisdom, inspiration, hope and love to herself and others.

It is certainly true that each of these people would have chosen not to be chosen to be the authors of such good at the cost of such pain. But at the same time, God required no less from His own Son and He honors them as He honored His own Son.

What we endure on earth is not endured in vain. We were not created to exist here and die for no reason. He did not place us here here to spin away our precious years in strivings for the possessions and the glory of the world like a mouse in a golden running wheel.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.26

God is in the business of bringing beauty from ashes, joy from mourning and forming us into value from pain:27

The spirit of the Lord God is upon meto comfort all that mournto give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord28

In order for God to offer to the gift of forgiveness and peace to an immoral humanity He had to pay our death-penalty for sin29 and become sin for us.30 But exactly like our own choices in the face of adversity, the price of the cross had to be actually paid before our peace could be real. The cost in physical pain, in death, and in becoming sin for us was immense, but He paid it nevertheless. And because He paid it, we have been reconciled with God.31 But the pains of life will still come. Although we can receive His peace in the midst of them, the pain of adversity is still there. And it must be endured. That is the tragedy and the magnificence of man, who has been made in the very image of God.

1. Second Peter 1:10

2. Philippians 4:7

3. John 14:23

4. John 14:25-27

5. John 16:33

6. John 17:3

7. First John 4:9

8. John 14:6 “I amthe life”

9. 2 Peter 1: “…by these [promises] you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

10. John 14:23 “Jesus answered and said If a man love Me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

11. John 14:27

12. Isaiah 57:20

13. First John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”

14. Romans 5: 6,8 “ For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodlyGod commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” First Peter 3:18 “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh [the cross], but quickened [made alive] by the Spirit.”

15. See Psalm 51

16. Revelation 20:14 “Death and hades [hell] were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

17. Revelation 21:4,5

18. John 16:33

19. Luke 22:31,32 “behold, Satan hat desired that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not

20. Revelation 5:9,10 ““You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God and they will reign on the earth.”

21. Second Corinthians 5:21 " For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."

22. First Corinthians 3:10-15

23. 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any may be in Christ he is a new creature…”

24. John 10:28 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”

25. Romans 5:21 “as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.”

26. Romans 8:28


28. Isaiah 61:1-3

29. Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death.”

30. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”

31. Romans 5:10 “…we were reconciled to God by the death of His son.”